Parole board to recommend Oscar Pistorius be released in August

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An emotional Oscar Pistorius is seen in the dock as judgment is handed down in his murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday, 11 September 2014.

SOUTH AFRICA — A parole board is set to recommend that the disgraced athlete Oscar Pistorius, convicted in the killing of his girlfriend, be released from prison in August, South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services told CNN on Monday.

Pistorius, 28, was sentenced in October to five years in prison for culpable homicide in the killing of Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. In South Africa, culpable homicide means a person was killed unintentionally but unlawfully.

Pistorius acknowledged firing shots through the bathroom door in his home, but said he thought there was an intruder in the bathroom rather than his girlfriend.

Pistorius’ fall from grace was one of the most dramatic since that of O.J. Simpson, the American football player turned sports announcer and movie star, who was charged with murder in the 1994 deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Simpson was acquitted in a criminal trial but found responsible for the deaths in a subsequent civil suit.

Like Simpson, Pistorius was handsome, popular and wealthy from commercial endorsements when the charges were filed.

In his 2014 trial, a judge found Pistorius to be not guilty of murder. Prosecutors are appealing that verdict.

Both of Pistorius’ legs were amputated before his first birthday. In the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Pistorius became the first athlete with both legs amputated to participate in the Olympic Games, running in the 400-meter race and the 4×400 meter relay.

Under South African law, Pistorius must serve at least one-sixth of his sentence — 10 months — before being released. The parole board is prepared to recommend that he be released on August 21, 10 months to the day since his sentencing.

Steenkamp’s parents reportedly wrote a letter to the parole board in protest, calling for accountability.

South African broadcaster eNCA published the letter, which read, in part: “As her family, we do not seek to avenge her death and we do not want Mr. Pistorius to suffer; that will not bring her back to us. However a person found guilty of a crime must be held accountable for their actions.

“Statistics show that our society is under continuous attack from criminals and murderers. Incarceration of 10 months for taking a life is simply not enough. We fear that this will not send out the proper message and serve as the deterrent it should.”